- February 20, 2013
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As an urban farmer who battled with drought and recently with the white fly ,I like to share with you a lesson from history “The potato Irish Famine and some tips from my experience as an urban farmer in the Tropics.
First, here is a story for farmers to learn from. I Quote it from HEIRLOUM SOLUTIONS ,FYI :
Quote: “Here in the United States, we’re spoiled. Food is cheap. I know it’s hard to believe, given what you’ve probably been paying for groceries lately. But it’s true. Even with rising food prices, we still pay a smaller percentage of our income for food than residents of just about any other country in the world. But the farming system that helps keep our food costs down also puts us at great risk. It’s the same farming system that caused the Irish Potato Famine. And we all know what the result of that was — 12 percent of the Irish starved to death.
Millions more suffered the debilitating long-term health effects of severe malnutrition. If an event of the same magnitude happened in the United States today, we’d be talking about over 37 million lives lost.
What is this farming system — and why did it cause the Irish Potato Famine? One word: monoculture. In case you’re not familiar with the term, it simply means growing a single crop over a wide area. That’s the very picture of how we grow food here in America today. Just take a drive through Idaho, and you’ll see what I mean. You can drive past potato fields for hours on end until you want to scream from the monotony.
Today’s monoculture farming put us at risk for major crop failure just as it did in the days of the Irish Potato Famine.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, count how many varieties of potatoes you find. In mine, there are only three. Russets, Red, and Yukon Gold. Why so few? Because those are the three varieties that grow well in today’s industrial agricultural operations. It’s an economic decision. By planting just one variety over wide swaths of land, growers can streamline their operations and make more profits.
In Ireland in the 1840s, two thirds of the Irish population depended upon agriculture for their very survival. They lived on the land but didn’t own it. Instead, they worked for their landlords in exchange for a plot of land to grow their families’ food. Working the land demanded long, hard hours, and they needed a crop that was easy to grow in quantity. That crop was potatoes. In 1845, the Irish planted over 2 million acres of potatoes.
Potatoes were actually a New World crop brought back to Europe in the late 1500s. They caught on very quickly, and it’s no wonder. Potatoes are, for the most part, pretty easy to grow. You dig a hole, drop in a potato, throw some dirt on it, and walk away. Occasionally, as the potato grows, you throw a little more dirt on it. Three months later, you’ve got a potato harvest. Potatoes originally started out as a delicacy grown in the gardens of the gentry. But by the early 1700s, they were a staple food of farm laborers and the poor.
For over a hundred years, potatoes were a staple crop and formed a major part of the diet for a huge portion of the population. By 1840, potatoes were the only significant source of food for 3 million Irish. Until 1845, that is. That was the year potato blight struck. Potato blight was actually Phytophthora infestans, a fungus-like infection that attacked the plants and actually caused them to ferment. First, the leaves turned black and curled up, and then began to rot. The tubers often looked perfectly normal on the outside, but were rotten on the inside. The disease spread quickly through windborne spores. One infected plant could infect thousands more in a matter of days. The blight spread at the rate of 50 miles a week or more. The whole countryside reeked of rot.
In 1845, up to half of the entire country’s potato harvest was lost. In 1846, three quarters of it was lost. The Irish population fell by almost 25 percent as a million people died from starvation and over a million left the country.
Today, with all our technology and scientific advancements, we’re making the same mistake the Irish did almost 200 years ago. We practice monoculture. Wheat, corn, and soy are the 21st century equivalent of yesteryear’s Irish potato. We plant over 60 million acres of wheat each year, and over 70 million each of corn and soy. We’re making the same mistake with potatoes too; U.S. potato production encompasses over a million acres. It would take just one disease with the same kill rate as Phytophthora infestans to cause a major collapse of US agriculture.
Eight Potato Varieties That Reduce Your Risk of Crop Losses
At Heirloom Solutions, we are the very antithesis of monoculture. The Bible tells us “Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:2) If the Irish had heeded this wisdom and planted several varieties of potatoes, history would tell a very different story. ” Unqoute.
Now back to the White Fly.There is an infestation that is endangering agriculture and vegetation in general in South Florida.It is the WHITE FLY .I have seen it and battled with it.There are infestations and more than just a white fly some name it as a spiral white fungus .
We need to drastically address this challenge in a way different from what we did with the CANKER disease that wiped out plenty of citrus trees and mainly ended up eradicating many of HEALTHY CITRUS trees as a collateral as well!!!
Here are some green solutions for defearting the white fly:
Hose the area affected with WF infestation early morning .Spray with an incecticidal soap.Spray with NEEM oil water solution .If infestation is SYSTEMIC, cut down tree or vegetation.NEED More solutions? Pls visit :